Views on commodities and energy
Rain, Rain Go Away Come Back Another Day When Corn is Planted
For the first time this spring I saw farmers doing field work in northern Illinois, not far from the Wisconsin border as I was coming home from work Friday night. They are easily two to three weeks behind normal as the Midwest just can’t seem to shake this cold, wet weather pattern. Saturday was cool but clear. Rains returned on Sunday. Forecasters are calling for more rain this week but the amounts look to be lighter than previously thought.
Northern Illinois farmers are not the only ones behind due extremely wet field conditions. Crop scouts traveling May 8-10 through central and southern Illinois as well eastern and central Iowa — the top two U.S. corn and soy states — saw standing pools of water in fields that would normally be planted to corn by now.
The initial concern is a yield drag of roughly 1.5 bushels per acre per day everyday a corn field is planted after May 15. But one has to wonder now if a lot of those fields will be switched to soybeans.
So far, U.S. corn planting is off to its slowest start since 1999. Worries about a smaller 2008 crop than currently forecast at 12.1 billion bushels is helping to fuel Chicago Board of Trade grain prices. Last week, CBOT corn hit a record high of $6.79 per bushel, notched in the July 2009 contract — two to three times the typical price for corn.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue its weekly crop progress report on Monday afternoon. Chicago traders are estimating that only about half the crop is seeded, compared to the seasonal average of 77 percent by mid-May. Farmers are taking advantage of every break in the rain to plant.
Photo taken May 10 near Salem, Illinois, about 260 miles south of Chicago.